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National

New Hampshire 4th Graders To Name White House Hawk

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Talk about your hawkish view - a red-tailed hawk has decided to hang out high up on some prime real estate here in Washington.

TAMARA DICKINSON: It's been spotted all over the grounds. It's been spotted several times on the White House itself.

BLOCK: A raptor visitor making itself comfortable outside the West Wing, as Tamara Dickinson tells us. She has a monstrously long title.

DICKINSON: Principal Assistant Director for Environment and Energy Office of Science and Technology Policy.

BLOCK: Or, just this...

DICKINSON: Unofficial birder-in-chief.

BLOCK: This red-tailed hawk is a juvenile so it's not clear yet if it's male or female.

DICKINSON: Hawks like to get high perches and look for their prey below and stalk them that way, so it finds the high points of the White House and looks into the yards.

BLOCK: I'm a bit concerned about the safety of the White House dogs, Bo and Sunny.

DICKINSON: I think the hawk is going to stay away from Bo and Sunny. They're much bigger than the hawk.

BLOCK: No problem there?

DICKINSON: No problem there.

BLOCK: No problem for the hawk - it's found plenty to snack on.

DICKINSON: It has been seen with numerous squirrels.

BLOCK: And Dickinson says it's caused a lot of excitement with White House staff. They're trading emails and photos of hawk sightings. Well, now the White House has decided the red-tailed needs a name, and they've given the naming rights to a class of fourth-graders from New Hampshire. You may remember we told you about this class back in March. The kids had come up with a bill to make the red-tailed hawk the official New Hampshire state raptor. But the students ended up getting a rough lesson in politics when they watched as state lawmakers swatted that bill down.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHRISTY BARTLETT: We already have a state bird, but now do we need a state raptor? Isn't that a bird?

BLOCK: So now instead, consolation prize - the fourth-graders get to come up with a name for the White House hawk. Ten-year-old Andrew Kriner is in that class in Hampton Falls, N.H. and he joins me now.

Andrew, hi.

ANDREW KRINER: Hello.

BLOCK: And how is that naming going?

ANDREW: Good. We thought up a bunch of names and we voted on them.

BLOCK: The White House isn't going to announce the name that you guys have chosen until tomorrow, so we're not going to spoil the surprise, but why don't you just tell us what some of the contenders have been?

ANDREW: Rusty was a big one.

BLOCK: That's a good one. Were there some other ones that came up?

ANDREW: We had Ruby because the red tail.

BLOCK: OK.

ANDREW: We had Virginia and we had Mary because Maryland and Virginia. The White House is right on the border. We had Airborne.

BLOCK: Airborne?

ANDREW: Yeah. I think that was pretty much it.

BLOCK: Yeah. And the winner is none of those names you're saying - it's something even better than those?

ANDREW: Yeah, and I think it's a great fit for the name of the hawk.

BLOCK: Well, Andrew thanks so much for talking to us. I appreciate it.

ANDREW: OK.

BLOCK: Bye-bye.

ANDREW: Bye.

BLOCK: Andrew Kriner is a fourth-grader at Lincoln Akerman School in Hampton Falls, N.H. The White House will announce the name his class has chosen for the resident red-tailed hawk tomorrow. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.